Back in the 1950s the Piazzale Ungheria in the centre of Palermo was the place to be seen as you sipped an espresso. It was here, at one of the cafés under the arcade, that Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa wrote 'Il Gattopardo' (The Leopard), a rich tale of the decline of Sicilian aristocracy set against the background of Italian unification. The novel, published a year after Lampedusa's death, has come to be considered the greatest Italian novel of the 20th century. Visconti directed the film version starring Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale.
Lucky Luciano was one of the mafia leaders that the Americans recruited to help them when they invaded Sicily in WWII. Like most of the godfathers, he managed to die a natural death. Many of those who crossed him were not so lucky. The closest old Cliffie got to the mafia in Sicily was a couple of times, late at night, when he heard a small bomb explode in a shop doorway in a nearby street. Just a warning to let the shopkeeper know he was slipping behind with his 'insurance' payments. Bacio le mani a Vossignoria!